Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review: The Genius of Science: a Portrait Gallery by Abraham Pais

Pais, A. (2000). The genius of science: A portrait gallery. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A delightful (if uneven) set of essays on a dozen physicists who Pais knew personally. Some of them are extremely famous (Dirac, Wigner) and others are names I'd heard of but didn't really know why (Feigenbaum, Jost). As with all Pais's biographies, he does an excellent job of analyzing both their personal and scientific lives. It is especially interesting when the two become entangled. The essays were written originally for a variety of audiences and so some of them are much more detailed than others. I was particularly intrigued by Wigner (who did some of his important work in the 30's at Wisconsin), and would enjoy reading a full biography of him.

Submitted by Thad Walker

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